(CN) – Scientists around the world – 11,000 of them from 153 nations – have declared a state of climate emergency, calling on the world to make urgent and meaningful changes to avoid serious and unknown consequences.
The scientists made their declaration Tuesday in the journal Bioscience, on the 40th anniversary of the first world climate conference held in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1979.
Human activity on the planet has had dangerous effects, including our massive contributions to greenhouse gas emissions, and the time has come for the world to fully grasp the severity of the problem, the scientists say.
“Scientists have a moral obligation to clearly warn humanity of any catastrophic threat and to ‘Tell it like it is.’ On the basis of this obligation and the graphical indicators presented below, we declare, with more than 11,000 scientist signatories from around the world, clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency,” the paper states.
William Ripple, one of the lead authors of the paper and professor of ecology in the OSU College of Forestry, says this emergency has been long in the making and only minimal efforts to prevent it have been undertaken.
“Despite 40 years of major global negotiations, we have continued to conduct business as usual and have failed to address this crisis. Climate change has arrived and is accelerating faster than many scientists expected,” Ripple said with the release of the paper.
The paper outlines several key areas where change is most needed. This includes fundamental adjustments to the world’s energy management, such as offering more widespread low-carbon energy replacement options for fossil fuels. Researchers also suggest imposing carbon fees to help curb fossil fuel usage.
Researchers say that repairing our natural environment must also be a top priority. By restoring and preserving the world’s natural ecosystems, such as forests and grasslands, our planet will be better equipped to regulate its own atmospheric and chemical balance.
While efforts have been made to help combat these problems in recent decades, the scientists say they are simply not enough to compensate for the amount of damage Earth has been – and continues to be – exposed to.
Ripple says the warning signs for Earth’s declining health have been readily apparent for some time now and that they serve as reminders of what the cost of inaction looks like.
“Global surface temperature, ocean heat content, extreme weather and its costs, sea level, ocean acidity, and area burned in the United States are all rising. Globally, ice is rapidly disappearing as demonstrated by decreases in minimum summer Arctic sea ice, Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, and glacier thickness. All of these rapid changes highlight the urgent need for action,” Ripple said.